CityLab Daily: Lights Out for ‘Dark Store’ Theory?

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What We’re Following

Lights out: In November, CityLab investigated the practice of “dark store theory,” a novel legal argument that big-box retail chains like Walmart, Target, and Menards use to slash their property taxes by assessing active stores as if they were vacant. The practice has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in taxable value to communities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, and beyond. It has also generated a vigorous debate about what these properties that proliferate throughout the United States should be worth during tax season. What happens if a retail apocalypse renders them worthless at the point of sale?

Now, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has pledged to close the “dark store” legal loophole in his proposed state budget. “Having large big-box stores have the property tax levied at a level as if the building is empty is absolutely a non-starter with me,” Evers told reporters last week. CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the update on where the fight over the “dark store” tax loophole goes next.  

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

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Finding Home in a Parking Lot

The number of unsheltered homeless living in their cars is growing. Safe Parking programs from San Diego to King’s County are here to help them.

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Should Libraries Be the Keepers of Their Cities’ Public Data?

Public libraries are one of the most trusted institutions, and they want to make sure everyone has access to the information cities are collecting and sharing.

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You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

Anne Lusk

Is the Revolution of 3D-Printed Building Getting Closer?

3D printing was expected to transform architecture and construction, but uptake has been slow. Could that be changing?

Thessa Lageman

More Than a Feeling

(Screenshot from CBS Boston – WBZ)

On Thursday, we highlighted an obituary for a co-author of the song “M.T.A.,” which famously strands everyman “Charlie” on the Boston subway because he can’t afford the transfer fare. One quirky detail that stuck out to us was that then-Governor Mitt Romney sang the song with the Kingston Trio at the unveiling of the CharlieCard in 2004. We asked Daily readers if anyone could find video evidence of this momentous crossover, and reader Marlee Chong delivered, sending us this archival spot from CBS Boston that briefly shows Romney singing along with the folk group. “Unfortunately, I have not seen a full video,” she writes from Somerville, Massachusetts. But the snippet here, and the fuller story of the T’s last tokens, is worth a look. Thanks, Marlee!

Also thanks to reader Tim Sieber, who noted that “M.T.A.” had a co-author, folk singer Bess Lomax Hawes, who died in 2009.

What We’re Reading

As Trump arrives for a rally, El Pasoans say history shows he was wrong about their city (Texas Tribune)

Sandusky, Ohio, makes Election Day a national holiday—by swapping out Columbus Day (NPR)

Nine international transit systems with lessons for New York (New York Times)

Meet the man who braved Chicago’s polar vortex to share photos of its brutal beauty (Block Club Chicago)

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